Dubai: Crave a McLaren sportscar but don’t have enough to put up for a factory-fresh model? Go in for a pre-owned instead. And if your preference veers towards a Rolls-Royce, you could just as easily go for a secondhand option.
Prestige car makers and their dealerships are finding the UAE retail market offers them opportunities in selling pre-owned as it does for new ones. McLaren’s pre-owned push has coalesced around the ‘McLaren Qualified’ programme through Al Habtoor Motors, its UAE importer, and which will be rolled out in other Gulf markets as soon as enough pre-owned units are available. The target is to have a parallel secondhand programme running in these markets before the end of the year.
But won’t having a pre-owned programme get in the way of the new car business? More so for McLaren, given that these are still early days yet as a commercial automotive manufacturer with an annual capacity for 1,500 units?
“What we have seen happen is that a viable used car programme always ends up stimulating the new car market,” said Ian Gorsuch, regional director for Middle East and Africa at McLaren Automotive.
“As a relatively new manufacturer, our emphasis with McLaren Qualified is to ensure that the residual value of our models — the 12C and 12C Spider — hold up and help us expand the user base. It could be that the first customer for a McLaren model comes in for a pre-owned and who could later go for a brand new model. We are not trying to buck the market with this programme but stimulate it.”
All of the McLaren models available through Al Habtoor’s retail facilities — at The Lofts, Downtown Dubai, and on Shaikh Zayed 1st Street in Khalidiya, Abu Dhabi — have been homologated specifically for the GCC. The programme will also offer incentives free of charge for tech upgrades on 2012 models to conform with the current-year format, including raising the output to 625-hp.
In the first six months of the year, McLaren sold just over 80 new units in the region, with the UAE comfortably ahead as the top-selling marketplace.
The McLaren Qualified programme was launched with 20 units as “existing owners are holding onto their cars for longer”.
On whether it was easy convincing regional importers to put up investments in a secondhand programme, Gorsuch said: “Ten years ago, I would have said it might have been difficult — now the markets have moved on and importers realise it creates more sophisticated opportunities for profit generation. And a better market too.”
Apart from the retail facilities for the marque, Al Habtoor Motors also has a service facility at Dubai Industrial City. “We calculated that our service centre is within a 25-minute drive for many of our customers in the New Dubai area,” said George Duncan, director at the prestige cars division of the dealership.
“But for those who cannot make the trip, there are other options available to them. They can drop off or collect the car at a pre-arranged meeting point in Dubai Marina. If they are dropping off the car, one of our technicians will organise a location to meet, then drive it to the workshop. We also provide a service where we can drop off or collect the car directly from someone’s home.”
Talk about going the full distance.